Haaretz Poll: Lapid Pays Price for Austerity Measures as His Popularity Plunges

With new taxes and government spending cuts looming, less than a fifth of the Israeli public appears to be satisfied with the freshman finance minister's performance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, too, has a negative approval rating.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

As the cabinet considered freshman Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s austerity budget at the beginning of the week, his performance was given poor marks by most members of the public, a new Haaretz opinion poll shows.

Even before the new taxes and government spending cuts take effect, the survey indicates that only 19 percent of the public is satisfied with his performance, compared to 53 percent who are dissatisfied.

Public opinion has always been important to Lapid, but the figures represent a satisfaction gap of 34 percentage points, which will be difficult to close. This is particularly true when economic indicators don’t portend an improvement in the foreseeable future, certainly not within the next year, as Lapid has promised.

The Haaretz-Dialog poll was carried out at the beginning of the week in the midst of the debate about the budget and prior to its approval by the cabinet.

It also gauged the public standing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Netanyahu too has a negative approval rating, although it is less grim than Lapid’s. When it comes to the prime minister’s performance, 39 percent of the public express satisfaction while 53 percent say they are dissatisfied.

The accepted wisdom has been that Netanyahu sees Lapid as a political rival. But if Netanyahu is pleased to see Lapid plummeting in the polls, he may not be so happy to see Defense Minister Ya’alon is faring well, with a majority of the public expressing satisfaction with his performance at this time. Ya’alon has gone about his job quietly and responsibly without a lot of media publicity. The former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff has slipped into a job that has been seen as tailor-made for him, as if he had always held the post.

Netanyahu was said to have been concerned about making Ya’alon defense minister, a position in which he could attract a public following and make a reputation for himself as a worthy, level-headed political rival. If the polling data remain steady for Ya’alon, that is precisely what can be expected to happen. Sometimes dreams, including Ya’alon’s, do come true − but so do nightmares, like Netanyahu’s.

See full story in Friday's Week's End.

Israeli protesters vandalize Lapid billboard in rally against austerity measures included in the 2013-2014 national budget.Credit: Rami Shlush

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